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Now Hear This: June edition

Now Hear This scours Bandcamp for new work from local artists. This time around, that includes surprisingly polished folk demos, “rock music?”, propulsive punk for smashing stuff, and plenty more–just in time for Bandcamp’s next Fee Free First Friday.

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Now Hear This is a monthly column that scours the pages of music distributor Bandcamp, looking for new work from local artists that would make fine additions to your digital library. This time around, that includes surprisingly polished folk demos, “rock music?”, propulsive punk for smashing stuff, and plenty more.

Bandcamp Fridays aren’t going anywhere soon: Bandcamp announced last Friday that it will be continuing waiving fees on the first Friday of each month through the end of 2021, starting August 6th. There will still be a fee-waiving day in June, though not at the beginning of the month. As promised last year, this month’s Bandcamp Friday falls on the 18th, the day before Juneteenth.

Blitzen Trapper, Holy Demos Future Demos

As we wait for a new Blitzen Trapper album, the folk-rockers are gifting their fans with this collection of demo versions of the material that would become their 2020 album Holy Smokes Future Jokes. For rough cut attempts, these songs sound surprisingly polished–and in some cases (like the chugging plea “Don’t Let Me Run”) a bit better than the more fully realized recordings from the band’s last full-length. 

Rebecca Conner, Wings

Rebecca Conner lists herself as a “jazz vocalist and guitarist” on her Bandcamp bio, but her debut album reveals a talent that has full command of any style she chooses. On Wings, Conner tries her hand at punch-drunk blues, reggae, old-timey folk, and pure power pop. That may make it hard to tag her to a genre-specific playlist, but why would we want to? Conner deserves a category all her own. 

Gülch, Some Plot

Another Bandcamp bio conundrum as this quartet lists itself as “Rock music?” To which we answer, “Kind of?” There are moments that could safely fall into that category, but this collection of tunes reads more as pop weaned on the jangly joys of the C86 movement and the last two decades of American indie. And the sound of these recordings calls to mind a stoned poolside Sunday afternoon—carefree but shadowed by the reality of the workweek on the horizon. 

SunFish Duo, Life Goes On

A favorite Saturday morning ritual in my house is popping on the radio to listen to Music From The True Vine, KBOO’s weekly celebration of folk and bluegrass, while we make a big breakfast. Listening to this heartfelt collection of guitar and mandolin duets from a local pair that have made appearances on that same radio show is an easy way to bring those weekend vibes to the rest of the week and to other meals. 

Soft Kill, Not Quite Dracula Music

The latest from this darkwave ensemble is a collection of demos recorded during the quarantine, plus a trio of covers–including a suitably nasty take on The Wipers’ “This Time.” Originally released on cassette (which quickly sold out), the band is offering it up for digital download. All the better to keep anticipation high for the group’s upcoming November tour dates opening for alt-rock legends The Lemonheads. 

Various Artists, Turning Light: A Tribute to Arthur Russell

Arthur Russel–the multifaceted artist whose work bridged the worlds of pop, dance music, classical, and jazz–would have turned 70 this year. To celebrate the late musician’s legacy, local label Oranj Discs put together a huge tribute to Russell with 27 different artists covering one of his songs. It’s an appropriately varied and beautiful collection, with contributions from Boreen, Babehoven, Half Shadow, and Skyler Pia. 

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Red Fang, Arrows

The fifth full-length from this heavy rock quartet sounds nasty. Even with the clear-eyed production of Decemberists guitarist Chris Funk and an appearance by members of the Portland Cello Project, the music on Arrows feels slathered in sludge and silt—as if the music was being broadcast from speakers hidden miles below the Earth’s crust and fighting to be heard over the clamor of modern life. 

The Mistons, World of Convenience

Portland mainstay Sean Croghan (Crackerbash, Jr. High) is getting back to his punk roots with his new duo The Mistons. Joined by drummer Micah Kassell, Croghan is making assaultive, propulsive rock in the mode of fellow Oregonians like The Wipers and Poison Idea. Their first album is tart, assertive, and makes me want to smash stuff. 

Kingsley, Crying On Holidays

The second album from this future pop/R&B vocalist apparently took two years of work to finish. You’d never guess that from the sounds of Crying On Holidays. Kingsley’s songs of romantic woe, sexual healing, and raw determination feel effortless and immediate—and ready to provide the soundtrack for your summertime dalliances and self-care.

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Robert Ham is a critic and journalist living in Portland, Oregon’s outer reaches. During his time in the Rose City, he has contributed to The OregonianWillamette WeekPortland Mercury, and Portland Monthly, while also amassing a healthy amount of clips for print and online publications including PitchforkDownBeatBandcamp, and Village Voice. In 2019, he was the recipient of the SPJ Award for Best Sports Feature. In addition, Robert produces and hosts Double Bummer, a radio show focusing on new and newly reissued experimental music from around the world that airs every Tuesday night at 11pm PT on XRAY-FM. To read more of his work, visit his portfolio site or follow him on Twitter at @roberthamwriter.

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One Response

  1. Thanks for the mention. Greatly appreciated and keep up the good work! Don’t smash anything of great importance.
    Cheers,
    -Sean and Micah
    (The Mistons)

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